I’ve been wanting to talk about this title for a while, but I never find the right opportunity for it…
7th Garden is oddly compelling because it sets up a deeply religious world and then proceeds to tear it down. That said, since it deals in religion so much, it constantly crosses the idea of what it means to believe in a higher power or the lack thereof.
Basically, Awyn, a gardener for his beloved master Marie, discovers a girl in a deep hole somewhere near the village of Karna. This is Vyrde – a demon, who eventually gives Awyn the power to exact his revenge when the local religious zealots, the Apostles, come to raze his village. (Like all shonen, it has to contend with the idea of what strength is. True strength, it says, is the ability to protect that which one holds dear, although you may lose yourself or your humanity in the process.) However, in signing up to become Vyrde’s servant, he has to slay angels…
It is an ecchi title because it gratuitously has to show Vyrde in…uh, compromising states of undress and with emphasis on the male gaze…whenever it can, but aside from that quibble, it’s no more different than, say, Seraph of the End, which it has a similar artstyle and themes to, or Soul Eater. Then again, Awyn, and later Vul, make this equal-opportunity, plus the art always does its job well. It’s a fanservice free-for-all! (Speaking of Soul Eater, like that series, this series has silly names with no tact like “Illumina Maidservant”, but that’s all part of the fun anyway.)
Speaking of art, the pages can get quite busy, but they always have a loving amount of detail to them. It helps one of the assistants who worked on 7th Garden is non other than Kikou Aiba, who – if I’m not mistaken – would go on to create Hypnosis Mic: Side DH & BAT.
The pages only get busy because there’s a lot of plot to get through and by extension, a lot of dialogue – it may be shonen at its core, but there’s the romantic elements, the religious elements, the fanservice elements and even a mystery element (who is Vyrde? Why does Vul call her “Maria”? So on, so forth.). It’s to the point where you can see the spelling of the abbreviation of “Elizabeth” go from “Elisa” to “Eliza” in a few pages, plus there’s one side comment from Vyrde which didn’t get as cleaned up as it should have been. Also, the trimming of the pages isn’t very good on volume 2…
7th Garden is extremely complex, but I hope I was able to convey my love for it – enough I have not one, but 2 volumes of it in physical format, bought at full price. You can obtain it via Viz, including through a Shonen Jump subscription.
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I don’t think I’ve read a manga tackling religious ideas quite like you’re describing in this series. Not typically a story I would go for personally, but the premise really sounds interesting. I haven’t heard about this series before, so thank you for sharing it with us!